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Such Great Faith

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

DavidJohnsonIt is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and as you and I make personal application of the Word of God in our own lives. The title and the topic of our lesson is, “Such Great Faith.” And the text that we will be looking at closely is found in the gospel of Matthew chapter eight beginning in verse five. Listen to the Word of God.

“When Jesus had entered Capernaum a centurion came to him asking for help. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘My servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.’ Jesus said to him, ‘I will go and heal him.’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes and that one, Come, and he comes. I say to my servant, Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you the truth. I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go. It will be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that very hour.” This is the Word of God. May he add his blessing to the reading of his Word.

It is not just great faith that we as believers need, but faith in a great God. It is interesting also that in Scripture Roman centurions are always described in a positive light. In Matthew chapter eight and verse five this unnamed centurion was a Roman military officer in charge of at least 100 soldiers. He was a Gentile of pagan background who usually believed in the many Roman or Greek gods. Also, he would have been part of the occupation army and, therefore, hated by the Jews. Yet in the parallel passage of Luke chapter seven and verse five regarding this same centurion it tells us there, quote, “He loves our nation and has built our synagogue,” end quote.

So, very possibly, this centurion was a God fearing seeker of the one true God of Israel. Also in Matthew chapter eight and verse five it tells us here that he came to him, that is to Christ, asking for help. Therefore, this centurion believed that the God of Israel was working through Jesus. Undoubtedly he had already heard of Jesus’ healing power.

In verse six the centurion addressed him as Lord. Imagine, an occupying foreign, Gentile, Roman military officer addressing a Jewish rabbi as Lord indicating here his respect and humility toward the Lord Jesus. In verse six the centurion said, “My servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” You understand that Roman soldiers usually were hardened and heartless with very little if any concern or compassion, especially of a lowly servant or slave who were usually treated like non persons, just a living tool, expendable. Now there is an application here for you and I.

How much concern or compassion do we have for our coworkers, for our associates, for our friends? Are we concerned enough to petition, to intercede on their behalf to the Lord in fervent prayer? Something to think about.

In verse eight we see that the centurion told Jesus just say the word and my servant will be healed. That is what the centurion said. Just say the Word and my servant will be healed. The centurion obviously had enough faith to believe that Jesus could heal from a distance, just by saying the words. Another application for us today.

Many Christians do not believe that Jesus can heal from a distance, or perhaps he can, but he won’t. That is, even a miraculous healing, just saying three words. Yet this first century AD Gentile Roman did not have understanding and knowledge of all the Scriptures that we have today. This centurion did not have full understanding and knowledge of exactly who Jesus Christ is as we can today. Yet this seeker of the God of Israel believed in the miraculous healing power of Jesus Christ even from a distance, just saying the words, an example of great faith for us today.

In fact, according to Luke’s parallel passage in Luke chapter seven and verse two, this same servant was about to die. Is this case too hard for Jesus, at the right hand of God, to heal today? Can God today heal at a distance if he so chooses? Is there any Scripture that forbids God to heal today according to his will and purposes and even in answer to the powerful and effectual prayer of a righteous man or woman? Absolutely not. Jesus Christ is deity in bodily form, is sovereign and can heal or not heal according to his will when he so chooses if he so chooses, past, present or future.

I remember a young lady that was diagnosed with terminal cancer. According to the doctors and lab reports she had terminal cancer, a cancer that was ravishing her body, and many of the saints, many of the Christians in the churches prayed for this young woman and a few weeks later she went for follow up tests and a consultation with her doctors and she was told that her body was cancer free. How could that happen? God evidently healed her. And yet many today would say God can, but he won’t. But by whose authority can we say this? Jesus Christ has the authority to heal or not heal according to his sovereignty over disease.

In Matthew chapter eight and verse 10 we read that when Jesus heard this he was astonished and he said to those following him, “I tell you the truth. I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Jesus was astonished? That is an astonishing statement in itself. Can the Son of God actually be astonished, actually be amazed? Absolutely, in his humanity Jesus Christ personally experienced every basic human emotion known to man and at no time did he sin. Yet as our sin bearer he took our sin burden upon himself. Jesus intimately understands our personal emotional experiences, because he lived them. Jesus Christ can even sympathize with our weaknesses according to Hebrews chapter four and verse 15. Only twice in the four gospels is it revealed and recorded that Christ was astonished or amazed at such great faith of a Gentile. In Mark chapter six and verse six it says that he was amazed at their, that is the Jews’ lack of faith. And yet both times it was regarding faith, one in a positive light and one in a negative.

Now what is the point here for us? It is not our family or biological lineage or heritage that brings faith. It is our individual, personal exercise of faith regardless, ultimately, of our backgrounds. Anyone can potentially come to faith, even a pagan backgrounded, hardened soldier.

In Matthew chapter eight and verses 11 to 12 we find truths that should be especially dear to us. In verse 11 we see Jesus saying, “I say to you, many will come from the east and west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus was prompted, at the great faith of this Gentile, to reveal that many from the east and west, that is, meaning Gentiles, including us, as believers, apart from Israel will be at the feast. But what feast? It is most likely referring to Revelation chapter 19 and verse nine where it reveals the wedding supper of the Lamb, this messianic feast. And Gentile believers along with the great patriarchs of the faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be evidently at that feast.   Of course, we Gentiles must be in Christ Jesus through genuine saving faith by the grace of God.

Verse 12, in stark contrast to this feast that is yet future, it says the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, meaning those who automatically considered themselves subjects of the kingdom of heaven, and here Jesus was referring to Jews. Just because of their Jewish heritage, just because they were physical, biological descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, without saving faith, they were, in fact, hell bound. Of course, anyone, Gentile or Jew, in Christ Jesus will be saved. But it is not through family lineage or heritage or biological descendancy. It is by faith, genuine obedient faith in Christ Jesus. So similarly a Christian family heritage saves no one. Salvation is only by the grace of God through faith, individually, personally, whether Jew or Gentile.

And now in Matthew chapter eight and verse 13 it says that the centurion’s servant was healed at that very hour. Whether Christ heals or does not heal, it isn’t necessarily due to insufficient faith even in the first century AD. For example, the apostle Paul, in the passage in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verses seven through nine, tells us that he was a man and that he was full of faith and even after praying three times for his, quote, thorn in the flesh to be taken away, it was denied. Instead, Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Likewise it is often usually the case for us today. In fact, it may take a great faith to not be healed and to be genuinely satisfied that his grace is sufficient for us, for each and every one of us today. But there is great news. All believers eventually will be healed permanently with the redemption of these bodies when we receive glorified bodies, bodies that will be even like his glorious body.

However, regarding spiritual healing, salvation is what God in Christ desires for all of us always. He wishes that none would perish, but that all would come to repentance. In the gospel of John chapter three and verse 17 it tells us that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. But each and every one of us must receive Jesus Christ personally by faith, by obedient faith as our personal Savior and Lord. Because he is Lord, we obey him. And the obedience points back to the genuine faith that we have in him. Because we believe in him, we trust him as the Son of God, as our own Savior and Lord, we then obey him. It is faith from first to last that we can then participate in the feast, in the feast in heaven. And there is no other way. Jesus Christ is the only way, the truth and the life, eternal life as we put our faith in him.

Feast or fire. It is our choice. And God will enforce our choice. And so, listener, choose feast. Choose Jesus now because today can be your day of salvation as you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, knowing that you are a sinner and that you need to repent of your sins. You can put your faith in Jesus as Savior, as the Son of God, believing in who he is, knowing that he is the Christ, the anointed one of God, confessing him as Savior and Lord, being baptized into him and persevering in Christ Jesus until he comes for us.

 




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4